Review: PTP/NYC's "Dogg's Hamlet, Cahoot's Macbeth" is Spectacular Stoppard
Dogg's Hamlet, Cahoot's Macbeth
Written by Tom Stoppard
Directed by Cheryl Faraone
July 9-August 4, 2019
|Matthew Ball. Photo credit: Stan Barouh.|
|Lucy Van Atta, Peter Schmitz, Christo Grabowski, |
and Connor Wright. Photo credit: Stan Barouh.
For non-Dogg speakers, all of this demonstrates, among other things, how much tone and gesture contribute to the creation of meaning in speech (some audience members are even directly addressed at one point in Dogg, intensifying such reflections) and, considering a phrase such as Easy's "I'll need a bit of a hand," how much of everyday language is actually highly metaphorical (and thus may or may not translate to another language). Immediately before Hamlet, Dogg, in costume, rattles off a litany of famous lines from the play, altering their meaning in their very decontextualization, much as their similar repetition within pop culture does. Dogg's Hamlet itself is reduced to its big moments, including, ironically for Stoppard fans, the excision of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and it is also uproariously overacted and immensely entertaining (Laertes' [Connor Wright] encounter with Ophelia's [Madeleine Russell] corpse provides one exceptional comic moment). This Hamlet would be worth seeing on its own, and when it concludes, an encore is called for.
Dogg's Hamlet as a whole is possessed of an antic disposition: it's extremely kinetic, packed with movement, activity, and flying objects. It's also packed with great touches from the actors, from Giordano's subtle tremors and intonation and rhythm as the Lady to Lucy Van Atta's reaction when, as Mrs. Dogg, she corrects her husband.
|Denise Cormier, Christopher Marshall, Lucy Van Atta, |
and Tara Giordano. Photo credit: Stan Barouh.
The entire cast in Dogg's Hamlet, Cahoot's Macbeth give superb performances, and particularly notable among this talented group of actors are, in addition to Giordano, Grabowski, who is equally fine whether he is collecting prizes as student Fox Major, pondering prophecy as Banquo, or barking as Cahoot; Christopher Marshall as a Macbeth whose performance changes as the situation changes around him; Matthew Ball as the initially perplexed but determined and good-natured Easy; and Russell, Varricchione, and Wright in their various roles. PTP/NYC's production of this absurdist play about words, words, words supplies an invigorating evening of theater on its own, and it gains some extra dimensions from also seeing Havel: The Passion of Thought. And we're not just saying that for the benefit of the surveillance state.
-John R. Ziegler and Leah Richards